A judge’s duty is to ensure that justice is delivered and for that inconvenience regarding language is irrelevant.
While opposing compulsory translation of vernacular documents into English, senior advocate Anil Anturkar argued that the oath taken by judges said that it was their duty to ensure justice to all. “For delivering justice, even the judge’s inconvenience is irrelevant,” argued Anturkar.
A three-judge bench of the Bombay High Court — Justices B.H. Marlapalle, S.C. Dharmad-hikari and R.Y. Ganoo — has been constituted to decide whether all documents in Marathi submitted should be accompanied with English translation.
After opinions of two division benches of the high court varied, a three-judge bench was constituted to decide on the issue.
Not just annexures (attached documents), even petitions filed in Marathi or any vernacular language can be entertained by judges as they have wide discretionary powers, argued Anturkar.
“Article 226 of the Constitution of India gives wide powers to high court judges. This allows judges to even frame their own procedure,” argued Anturkar. He said the court often takes cognisance of letters written by people seeking justice, mostly written in a vernacular language.
By objecting to entertaining annexures in Marathi, a judge's discretionary powers are curtailed. “A judge’s discretionary power is at peril by making it compulsory to attach English translation of documents. A judge well-versed with Marathi may not call for translation of documents. That is his discretion,” said Anturkar.
In 2008, a division bench of Justice F.I. Rebello and Justice Rajendra Sawant while hearing an admission-related matter, had ruled that all documents attached with the petition have to be translated into English.
As per the Constitution of India, the official language of all courts is English and all proceedings and documentation has to be English, opined the bench.
A contradictory judgment was passed by a division bench of Justice S.B. Mhase and Justice D.G. Karnik in March.
The bench ruled that local language be given preference as it is important for the justice delivery system.